From the illustrations that I have seen it seems that this was the way buffalo hunting was done. I remember one that portrays an Indian trying to do it with a bow and arrow.
I wondered about the pistol too. However that leaves me with the impression that the rider, while using a rifle, would have no hands left to steer the horse. It seems that could be accomplished by using the legs, (I have no idea how that works). That leaves our daring rider now chasing the irate buffalo while steering the running horse with his legs, and trying to aim at his stampeding target. This seems even more risky than trying it with a pistol.
It leaves me with the impression that this was more of a sport than anything else. If so it must have been a pretty exciting one.
As to Custer's judgement, well that remains a matter of opinion I guess.
However I enjoyed reading your comments and appreciate your getting back to me!
Thank you, John! It was considered a sport because of cattle - Custer ate more beef than buffalo - and he dearly loved to take VIPs out to chase buffalo. European and Mideastern dignitaries and diplomats and any lord or pretend lord he could find he'd treat to a real American buffalo hunt! It was also a test of courage. Buffalo are not docile and don't like being hunted! If they had to, the Indians would ride up with several buddies, and start shooting arrows - which were amazingly high powered, by the way - but better to run them into a blind or off a cliff or bluff. It wasn't a sport to the tribes - it was existence in more ways than Custer could ever have understood even if he'd tried. And he didn't! (Which is why he got awls stuck in his ears at LBH...maybe he'd be hearing better next walk...)
Waterloo - have you run across Pickett's comments on the buffalo? He knew pretty well what was up with all the hunting and had some strong words about it. I haven't found them yet.